Knoxville scooter rental program hits speed bump

Local News

Electric scooters in Knoxville hit a bit of a speed bump on Wednesday, the day of a “soft launch” of the program in the city.

City spokesperson Fiona McNally said there were some issues with geofencing and scooter provider Zagster is working out some bugs. The scooters were taken off the road, and McNally said it’s not clear when they will be re-deployed.

Kim Bumpas with Visit Knoxville said the scooters will be redeployed sometime next week.

The city passed a resolution allowing electric scooter companies to operate in Knoxville last month. 

     MORE | Electric scooter companies get OK for Knoxville

City representatives officially announced on Wednesday the addition of Spin, a scooter-sharing company, to the existing Pace bike share program. 

     MORE | 6 Things to know about Spin scooters in Knoxville 

“We get asked in the visitor’s center all the time, ‘Where are our scooters?'” said Kim Bumpas with Visit Knoxville.

Now that those scooters are here, many in East Tennessee are excited to give it a try.

“I think it’s a great idea. Looks like it’d be a lot of fun for tourists to come and ride around downtown and get to sights a little faster,” said Ann and Greg O’Connor.

Similar to our current bike-sharing program, 250 Spin scooters will be available to ride.

“We’ve been wanting to try scooters like these for a really long time. We’re really excited to see there’s so many of them availale here. So we’ve just been exploring Knoxville,” said Kate Mylotta a student at University of Wisconsin Madison visiting Knoxville during spring break.

Renting a scooter is relatively easy: download the Spin app, connect your credit card, scan a scooter and go.

The Spin website says the dock-less scooters can be unlocked for $1 and after that, cost 15 cents per minute of use. 

Riders have to be 18 years old or have adult permission and supervision if they’re 13 to 17 years old.

“I think we want to see how fast they go, how long the charge lasts,” added Mylotta.

The scooter can only go 15 miles per hour maximum and depending on weather or special events, it may be lowered or restricted remotely.

Scooters can only be ridden on streets, except in Market Square, Cumberland Avenue and Henley Bridge. They’re also not allowed on sidewalks or greenways.

“The map in the app is going to show you where you can ride, where scooters are available and where you can drop them,” said Christy Jensen with Zagster, which operates the Pace bike-sharing program.

There’s a time frame for riding as well, scooters are only available 7 a.m. to 9 .p.m every day. However, depending on weather or special events rentals may be unavailable.

“We highly encourage that people wear helmets to protect themselves and ride responsibly,” said Jensen.

Riders can be fined for misusing a scooter and ticketed for not following traffic rules.

“We’re going to have a street team that re-deploys them and charges them at night. So, it’s going to be a very controlled approach,” added Bumpas.

When your ride is all done, you’re asked to return them upright, out of the way and near one of the bicycle holding areas.

“It’s kind of nice to get around the city a little bit faster since we’re tourists,” added Mylotta.

City leaders telling us this is a one-year pilot program, changes along the way on how people use the scooters may be made.

This isn’t the first Tennessee city Spin has opened up shop. The company already operates in Nashville.

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